J.C. Smith gives Hawks the ‘blues’

Published 9:45 pm Friday, February 12, 2010


Thursday was “Blue Out” night at the Helms Center when the Chowan men’s basketball team hosted Johnson C. Smith in a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Western Division battle. Fans were encouraged to wear their blue in support of the team.

Sadly, Hawks fans also went home a little blue, and it wasn’t all cosmetic.

The Golden Bulls shocked the home crowd with a 67-62 win, breaking a two-game losing streak and sending Chowan to their fourth loss in their last six games. It was also the Hawks’ second home loss in a row.

“48 hours ago we can take a four-hour bus ride and play with such unbelievable energy and poise,” said eighth-year coach Jim Tribbett, “and then come back home and play and seem like we haven’t had a practice in two months.

“We played zone, and they played zone, and naturally that affected the three-point shooting,” he added.

The teams were a combined 7-for-40, Chowan only shooting 4-for-27 from beyond the arc.

“I thought we were a little hesitant to challenge them in the first half,” he said, “so I challenged them at halftime and they responded by playing much better in the second half.”

Jaleel Nelson led Chowan with 19 points and five steals. Fellow seniors Lando Morrison and Nate Walchuk had 11 apiece with Morrison tying for rebounding honors with eight.

Jerry Hollis had 25 for the Golden Bulls while teammate and pre-season All-CIAA James Dillard had 20.

A pair of back-to-back jump shots from Mark Brown, who played despite attending his grandfather’s funeral earlier in the day, staked Chowan to their biggest lead of the first half, 9-5, at the 14-and-a-half minute mark.

JCSU got back-to-back dunks from Dillard to tie it before a Hollis dunk put the Golden Bulls ahead. Nelson then got a three-point play after being fouled on a layup and making the free throw, but the 12-11 score was Chowan’s last lead of the half.

The Hawks tied it twice more, the last time at 16-16 midway through the period, but a late JCSU run had them ahead, 28-22, at the break in a half that featured six dunks, five by the Golden Bulls, who asserted their inside game for much of the half.

Chowan managed to cut the lead to just a single point three times and tie it twice in the first 12 minutes of the second half the last time on a Walchuk jumper at 42-42 with 11 minutes to go.

The California native then gave the Hawks their first lead of the half two minutes later 47-44 on a three-pointer.

The Hawks’ lead built to five with under ten to play on a pair of Morrison free-throws before JCSU went on a run and tied it, 50-50.

It was 52-52 on a pair of Nelson free-throws before JCSU took the lead for good on a Ron Thorngill three-pointer. Chowan got back within one on a Morrison jumper in the lane, but the Golden Bulls outscored the Hawks 8-to-4 in the last three minutes for their 15th win of the year.

“We put ourselves in a hole with all those turnovers in the first half,” said Nelson, “and we only shot two free throws in the first half. That’s not our game.”

“We have to take care of business now on the road,” added Morrison. “Since we’re no longer the underdog, teams prepare for us better, but it still all depends on how we play.”

“Our guys have been through this (challenges) before,” said JCSU coach Steve Joyner, “and this was no easy victory; but hopefully we’re drawing on our experience.”

Chowan (14-8, 10-6, CIAA) plays Livingstone in Salisbury Saturday night before playing their home finale in the Helms Center Monday, February 15, against St. Augustine’s.